Monday, September 30, 2013


Sight (via Sci-Fi Fan Letter) is a 2012 science fiction short film directed by Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo. Plug me in, I'm ready to play. But not like this. Creepy.

via youtube:

Slate names it one of the 6 best short films of that year and says,
Augmented-reality contacts make life more fun—and not a little creepy—in this short created by Israeli students Daniel Lazo and Eran May-raz. Issues explored: Augmented reality, online dating, gamification, technology etiquette, online advertising

Beale Street Blues

Beale Street Blues:

by Louis Armstrong.

You'll see pretty browns in beautiful gowns
You'll see tailor-mades and hand-me-downs
You'll meet honest men and pick-pockets skilled
You'll find that business never closes
Till somebody gets killed

If Beale Street could talk, if Beale Street could talk
Married men would have to take their beds and walk
Except one or two, who never drink booze
And the blind man on the corner
Who sings the Beale Street Blues

He said, "I'd rather be here than anyplace I know
Yes, I'd rather be here, than anyplace I know
It's gonna take the Sergeant, for to make me go"

I'm goin' to the river, maybe by and by
Yes, I'm goin' to the river and there's a reason why
Because the river's wet and Beale Street's done gone dry.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hakuho Wins Again!

Hakuho has won another one! Asia & Japan Watch opens an early report with this: "With blood trickling down his face, yokozuna Hakuho defeated ozeki Kisenosato on Sept. 28 to win his fourth straight Emperor’s Cup at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament" and updates the story with this: "Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho put the finishing touches on his fourth straight Emperor's Cup in style with a convincing win over compatriot Harumafuji on Sept. 29, the final day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament." Japan Times says, "The Mongolian won his fourth consecutive championship, moving him within four of yokozuna great Chiyonofuji’s hallowed mark of 31 career titles. Hakuho is alone in third place on the all-time list behind Chiyonofuji and Taiho at 32."

the final:

The photo at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Elmwood Cemetary

The Donohoe Mausoleum, one of the oldest remaining mausoleums here

Elmwood Cemetery is a historic cemetery here in Memphis, its oldest active cemetery according to the web site. The Daughter and I recently took the self-guided tour using a handy map they sold us for $5.00. They have photos of some of the sites. I don't have any relatives here that I know of, so I don't have a personal connection.

Among the noted residents:

Alice Jessie Mitchell, who was gay before it was in the news, was declared innocent by reason of insanity after she killed her lover. She died at the age of 26 in 1898 in an insane asylum in Bolivar, Tennessee.

Many a Confederate veteran is buried here, including 20 Confederate and 2 Union generals. The monument above is in the section where most of the soldiers are. Most of the Union dead buried here were moved to Memphis National Cemetery in 1868.

John Overton, one of our mayors and grandson of one of our founders

Kit Dalton was a Confederate veteran who rode with the James gang before he reformed to live a reportedly exemplary life in Memphis.

Local author Shelby Foote, famed for his Civil War writings and his participation in the Ken Burns series, is buried next to the Nathan Bedford Forrest plot. General Forrest himself was moved from here in 1904 to a park in what is now the medical district.

There are many types, sizes and shapes of monuments in this cemetery.

You can see more photos at and

The map says, "Elmwood Cemetery was established as one of the first rural garden cemeteries in the South. Fifty Memphis gentleman held the vision of a beautiful and dignified final resting place amid towering trees and winding paths and lanes." There are still plots available. This is an interesting tour. They also offer an audio driving tour and guided tours. There are events scheduled throughout the year, including a costume twilight tour in late October where the dead rise up and tell their tales. This is a fascinating place!

Friday, September 27, 2013


Pumzi is a 2009 South African/Kenyan science fiction film short. Wikipedia describes the plot:
Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which water scarcity has extinguished life above ground, the short follows one scientist's quest to investigate the possibility of germinating seeds beyond the confines of her repressive subterranean Nairobi culture.

... Asha lives and works as a museum curator in one of the indoor communities set up by the Maitu Council. When she receives a box in the mail containing soil, she plants an old seed in it and the seed immediately starts germinating.
I like the look of this, and I like what the director did with the idea.

via youtube:

Wired interviewed the director. Bitch Magazine calls it, "a poetic, imaginative and assured film". African Screens calls it "a robust film and one I will certainly recommend to all". Clutch says, "There is little doubt that [director] Kahiu is poised to be a trailblazer in the film industry. She is definitely one to keep an eye out for!"

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another Science Fiction Book List

I've decided there are as many of these lists on the internet as there are people on the internet, and yet I still love them. Here (via SF Signal) is a list from Flavorwire of "50 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels That Everyone Should Read":
Ubik, Philip K. Dick
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin (I've read the first 2.)
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The Gormenghast series, Mervyn Peake
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein
Kindred, Octavia Butler
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
The City & The City, China Miéville
The Once and Future King, T.H. White
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Zone One, Colson Whitehead
The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
The Time Quartet, Madeleine L’Engle
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
The Female Man, Joanna Russ
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson
Solaris, Stanislaw Lem
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
The Dune Chronicles, Frank Herbert
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Neuromancer, William Gibson
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
The Foundation series, Isaac Asimov
Discworld, Terry Pratchett (I haven't read all of them, but I'm working on it.)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Among Others, Jo Walton
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
The Drowned World, J.G. Ballard
Witch World, Andre Norton
Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Little, Big, John Crowley
The Dragonriders of Pern series, Anne McCaffrey
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede
The Castle trilogy, Diana Wynne Jones
The Giver, Lois Lowry
Ones I've read are in bold print. I'm so glad I started reading science fiction as early as I did.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cemetery Without Crosses

Cemetery Without Crosses (The Rope and the Colt) is a 1969 French/Italian Spaghetti Western. Robert Hossein directs. Dialog is sparse, but I like that. Some films are so talky that this is a breath of fresh air. The look of the film is also spare. There's nothing extra here. Every scene advances the revenge plot.

via youtube: says it's "not your average spaghetti;" calls it "refreshing" and "a thoughtful action film; with genuine drama" and says it "sits among some of the genre's best". Fistful of Pasta says, "the cinematography in this film is exceptional" and calls it "an original".

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sumo Books

The Husband asked me some questions about Sumo recently, and I couldn't answer them. I'm not versed on the finer points, or -to be honest- even knowledgeable about all the basics. Soon afterwards, he gave me 2 books on the subject. Isn't he a Good Husband!

One of them is The Big Book of Sumo: History, Practice, Ritual, Fight, by Mina Hall. It's an oversized paperback and combines text, drawings, diagrams and photos. You can view parts of it at, where reviews are positive. Here are a couple of examples of the drawings:

from the back of the book:
In a dirt ring, two giant men perform the age-old ritual, stomping and clapping to alert the gods. Then, in a great burst of energy, they charge forward and grapple each other to determine who will be champion... The Big Book of Sumo is an illustrated guide to Japan's ancient ritual sport that today is winning new fans around the world. Super sumo fan Mina Hall covers all aspects of sumo, including history, traditions, training, stable life, rankings, fighting strategies, and judging. She goes inside the "stables" to show the rigorous, disciplined life of a sumo wrestler. She also gives advice on how you can visit a stable yourself and where to eat and stay near the main sumo arena in Tokyo. Of special interest are a collection of belly-busting "sumo stew" recipes and a revealing look at the Hawaiian power-houses who have helped make sumo a truly international sport. Whimisical line drawings make The Big Book of Sumo the most user friendly sumo guide book available -fun to browse through and filled with amazing facts about the giant wrestlers of Japan.
It's a wonderful guide to understanding all aspects of the sport.

The other book he gave me is The Joy of Sumo: A Fan's Notes, by David Benjamin:

This book has more text, fewer and less helpful illustrations, more details about certain things but less general information... In the introduction the author says, "Herein, then, is freedom from expert opinion! I will guide the casual but astute fan through the stages of sumophilia."

from the back of the book:
Just what is sumo? Is it a sport, a religion, an aesthetic feast, living traditional culture, or a battle of titans? The simple answer is Yes! For the first time ever, David Benjamin's The Joy of Sumo strips away the veneer of culture and looks at Japan's national sport through the eyes of a true aficionado. Learn what makes a sumo exciting. Read what makes individual wrestlers tick. Understand why there are no weight divisions. Find out how to remember names. Memorize tactics. But most of all grasp why such a plethora of descriptions of the sport can all be true. Sumo, like any sport, has its heroes, horrors, and hilarity, and The Joy of Sumo has something for everyone. Guaranteed to provide invaluable information for everyone form the novice fan to the expert, The Joy of Sumo also is the first book to do it with the same humor normally associated more with football, basketball, or baseball. In fact, after he's read this book, the sportslover's world will never be quite the same-just broader and more fun!
You have to be willing to actually read this one to get anything out of it, which makes it much less useful to me if -for example- I just want to know what just happened in a bout. It's more filled with anecdotes about past wrestlers and answers fewer Why? and What happened? questions.

Together they make a wonderful resource as I try to learn more.

Life Is Like Coffee

Life is like coffee:

I do get their point, but I agree with Psychology Today when they explain why the cup does matter in some important ways:
The cup from which we drink matters, perhaps not as much as the coffee itself, but it can certainly add significantly to, or detract significantly from, our enjoyment of the coffee.
Granted, we shouldn't focus on the superficial aspects of an experience at the expense of the primary experience itself, but I don't see anything wrong in trying to enhance the coffee-drinking experience with a cup that suits you.

Join the friendly exchange at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's, where there are wild sunflowers.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Nang Nak

Nang Nak is a 1999 Thai ghost story. A man returning from war moves back into his home with his wife and child and won't believe his friends when they tell him his wife and baby died months ago. It's supposedly based on a true story. I tend to like ghost stories, and I like this one. Eerie. Sad.


Moria gives it a good review and notes: "And it is a legend that is believed to be true by many –before commencing filming, for example, director Nonzee Nimibutr toured Thai temples conducting ceremonies to appease Nang Nak’s spirit and obtain good luck for the production." Time Out calls this "the definitive treatment" of the story. Ferdy on Films has a positive review that ends with this: "While some Thai fear the legend of Nang Nak, Jaroenpura restores the emotional core of the story with power, beauty, and sympathy." DVD Talk calls it "a decent, but not too suspenseful horror film". Rotten Tomatoes has no critics score but an audience score of 73%.

Must Be in Memphis

Must Be in Memphis:

by Harlan T. Bobo.

Heard recently on WEVL.

lyric excerpts:

"I'm feeling my best and acting my worst, Lord, I must be in Memphis tonight."

"I've been kicked out of Sweden, I've been busted in Spain, and New York I don't care to discuss.
But the things that I find fit to do in this town would turn my poor mammy to dust.
I must be in Memphis."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

More Money Than Sense

If you are willing to pay $2000 for a pair of shoes, then yes, I think you have more money than sense. Brooks Brothers has the pair shown above for the bargain price of $1225. That's over a thousand dollars for a pair of shoes. Wow!

The photo came from the Brooks Brothers site.

Jerry's Sno Cones

Jerry's Sno Cones is a Memphis institution, but it's well off my beaten track and I had never been. The Daughter insisted I remedy this, and we went recently and had pink lemonade sno cones.

It wasn't really what I was expecting. I was thinking I'd be having what I used to get at the Sno Cream Castle when I was little. That treat was crushed ice in a paper cone with flavored syrup on it. The Kids remember getting these at the zoo when they were little. They looked like this:

photo from Sky High Party Rentals

What we were served at Jerry's:

seemed to me to be more like a slushy. It was good even though it wasn't what I expected. I've been told there's almost always a line -a long line- so we were fortunate to go on a day when the traffic was steady but there were never more than 3 in the line.

Here's the menu:

The I Love Memphis blog lists it as one of the reasons to love Memphis. Urban Spoon gives Jerry's a 97% rating. Yelp has good reviews.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Best Car in the Known Universe

I followed this car down Poplar until it pulled into a parking lot.

This made my day!

11 Most Important Political Science Fiction Movies

io9 has a list of "11 Most Important Political Science Fiction Movies":
1. Metropolis (1927)
2) The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
3) Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
4) Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)
5) A Clockwork Orange (1971)
6) Robocop (1987)
7) Akira (1988)
8) Demolition Man (1993)
9) The Matrix (1999)
10. Avatar (2009)
11. The Hunger Games (2012)
They explain why each is influential and what the political message is. I've seen the ones in bold print. I have a Clockwork Orange DVD on the shelf but haven't gotten to it yet. Alphaville looks like the least well-known of these, at least with people I know. io9 calls it "a pop-art noir masterpiece that still gets listed as one of the all-time great movies".

HT: SF Signal

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ali: Fears Eat The Soul

Ali: Fear Eats The Soul is a 1974 West German Film. It won 2 prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. It's an intergenerational, inter-racial love story.

Here's one scene from the film:

Senses of Cinema has an article examining this film which says, "Littered with characters like Emmy and Ali existing on the margins of society, Fassbinder’s cinema is a struggle for the search for identity and place in a world (his, pointedly, being a post Second World War German one) demanding conformism." Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars. DVD Talk concludes, "If you are a Fassbinder fan it is a must. If you are curious to discover him and his style, there is probably no better introduction than this film." Roger Ebert considers it a "great movie" and says, "The reason it gathers so much power, I think, is that Fassbinder [the director] knew exactly what was meant by the title, and made the film so quickly he only had time to tell the truth." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a critics score of 100%.

Harry Brown

Harry Brown is a 2009 revenge film starring Michael Caine as a man who decides to take action against the thugs who have taken over his neighborhood. And he does. Like all Michael Caine films, this one is worth seeing, but I think you need to like Caine. Of course, who doesn't!

via Crackle:

From Crackle: Harry Brown

Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and concludes with this: "Verdict: Essential stuff, even by the big man’s considerable standards." Time Out gives it 2 out of 5 stars and comments on "the sick ideology of the film, in which ill-informed pessimism is bolstered by childish ideas of revenge." TwitchFilm says, "Harry Brown has two big trump cards to bust itself out of the cluttered subgenre: The iconic Michael Caine giving a knock-out performance, and an overall dizzying sense of style -This may be the most craft-level handsome revenge movie ever made." Slant Magazine gves it just 1 star out of 4 and closes by saying,
The war abroad has escaped from the confines of the news and into what could be but likely isn't your backyard (when was the last time the target audience for Harry Brown was anywhere remotely near a project complex?) and nobody can stop it but an old man with a gun and a warped sense of ethics. God help us all.
The Guardian gives it 3 out of 5 stars and says it's "a tremendous role for Caine". Roger Ebert praises Caine and says, "We are all so desperately weary of CGI that replaces drama. With movies like this, humans creep back into crime stories." Rotten Tomatoes critics give it 64%.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Nam King

I used to go to New Nam King a lot, but then I moved and found another Chinese buffet that was closer. The Daughter and I were in the area recently and decided to go for old time's sake.

It was ok, I guess, but the broccoli, for example, managed to be both tough and mushy, and there were no green beans, no white rice, none of several items we usually see on Chinese buffets. There was a lot more of things like french fries, and macaroni and cheese, and fried okra than there used to be years ago. I think I'll be happy to stick with the buffet that is closer to where I live now.

The score at Urban Spoon is 74%. Yelp gives it 2 1/2 out of 4 stars with 4 reviews.

Invisible Cities

I could've sworn I had read Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, but I couldn't find any note of it anywhere. I decided to read it, and, sure enough, I remembered having read it before. I love this author, and this is a fascinating read.

favorite quote:
When a man rides a long time through wild regions he feels the desire for a city.
The back of the book just quotes from Gore Vidal's article in The New York Review of Books. Here's the Wikipedia description:
The book explores imagination and the imaginable through the descriptions of cities by an explorer, Marco Polo. The book is framed as a conversation between the aging and busy emperor Kublai Khan, who constantly has merchants coming to describe the state of his expanding and vast empire, and Polo. The majority of the book consists of brief prose poems describing 55 cities, apparently narrated by Polo. Short dialogues between the two characters are interspersed every five to ten cities and are used to discuss various ideas presented by the cities on a wide range of topics including linguistics and human nature. The book is structured around an interlocking pattern of numbered sections, while the length of each section's title graphically outlines a continuously oscillating sine wave, or perhaps a city skyline. The interludes between Khan and Polo are no less poetically constructed than the cities, and form a framing device, a story within a story, that plays with the natural complexity of language and stories.

Marco Polo and Kublai Khan do not speak the same language. When Polo is explaining the various cities, he uses objects from the city to tell the story. The implication is that that each character understands the other through their own interpretation of what they are saying. They literally are not speaking the same language, which leaves many decisions for the individual reader.

The book, because of its approach to the imaginative potentialities of cities, has been used by architects and artists to visualize how cities can be, their secret folds, where the human imagination is not necessarily limited by the laws of physics or the limitations of modern urban theory. It offers an alternative approach to thinking about cities, how they are formed and how they function.
The NPR reviewer says, "The question that Calvino seems to be asking is a big one: How should we live?" and, "There is so much there there. It's best, I think, to read Invisible Cities like a traveler — slowly, luxuriously, as if you have all the time in the world." The New York Times calls it an "ineffably lovely book". Kirkus Reviews says, "The assumption of the invisible cities is that we will, no matter what, always have recognitions to share in common and that they may be essential ones." The Guardian says,
Invisible Cities is a metafictional guide to Venice, an elegy to a succession of exotic and remote cities that are all versions of Venice, according to the Venetian traveller Marco Polo – who in Calvino's book describes them to the emperor Kublai Khan. He never mentions Venice, instead he describes all the other fantastic places he claims to have visited. But when Khan asks him to speak of Venice he replies: "What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sun Studio

The Daughter and I had neither one been to Sun Studio, so we recently decided to play tourist and go. We went on a weekday morning for the 10:30 tour. We weren't expecting much of a crowd. Death Week is over, after all. Wow, were we surprised! Our tour group was big, and the group scheduled to start as we were leaving looked even bigger.

We even had an Elvis impersonator on our tour, although he didn't show off. Can you spot him in this picture?

There were 2 sections of the tour. In the first part everything was in display cases, and flash photography wasn't permitted. In the second part, which is still used some for recording, there were no photo restrictions:

On the very spot marked with an "x" below, Elvis Presley stood. He used that very microphone, and we were encouraged to stand there and pose. The microphone was so much too tall for me it looked like I was going to have to stretch it out across the floor to get it low enough for the pose. But I did it!

Our tour guide was enthusiastic and fun. The Daughter and I were the only Memphians on the tour.

Youtube has several relevant videos. Here's a short overview:

and another:

The Drifter

The Drifter is a 1932 Western film starring William Farnum and Noah Beery, Sr. Here's the plot from the imdb:
A man known as The Drifter returns home to his cabin in the woods and winds up getting involved with an escaped convict, a gunfighter, lumber company rivals, mysterious family ties and murder.
I'm not overly fond of Westerns from the '30s, and there's nothing here to convert me. It was interesting enough, and the acting was fine. If you like this kind of thing or this era of Western, I'm sure you'll like this. What's that saying again? "Them that likes it speaks well of it."

via youtube:

TCM has an overview. Reviews are scarce.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Good Apprentice

The Good Apprentice is a 1985 novel by Iris Murdoch, an author whose name on a book cover is enough for me to buy the book. This is yet another that makes me continue to feel that way. This was her 22nd novel, and she wrote 4 more novels after this. She died in 1999 at 79 years of age after suffering from Alzheimer's for several years.

from the dust jacket:
Stuart Cuno has decided to become good. Not believing in God, he invents his own methods, which include celibacy, chastity and the abandonment of a promising academic career. Interfering friends and relations question his sincerity, his sanity and his motives. Stuart’s step-brother Edward Baltram is tormented by guilt because he has, he believes, killed his best friend. He dreams sometimes of redemption, sometimes of suicide. Edward is sent on a "journey to the underworld" to find his natural father, the painter Jesse Baltram, whom he has not seen since childhood. He discovers a father strangely different from his expectations, and succumbs to an enchantment quite unlike the redemptive cure for which he has been seeking; and meets perhaps the one person in the world who has the power to forgive him. Meanwhile Stuart’s moral apprenticeship is causing nothing but trouble. Coming to rescue Edward, Stuart provokes a final catastrophic clash of forces. Funny, compelling and extremely moving, Iris Murdoch's new novel is about obsessive guilt-ridden despair, and the difficult problem of how to try to be good -and the various magical devices which console those who are sensible enough not to try.
favorite quotes:
How does one live after total wickedness, total failure, total disgrace?
"Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow?"
So little needed to be changed for it all to be different.
I'm not mentally ill I'm spiritually ill. I never knew what that meant before. It's the fact, the fact I have to live with, what happened, what I did. People say, "you have to live with something", but I can't live with this, I can only die with it, except that I don't die.
We practice dying through a continual destruction of our self-images, inspired not by the self-hatred which seems to be within, but by the truth that seems to be without; such suffering is normal, it goes on all the time, it must go on.
Some memories are like lucky charms, talismans, one shouldn't tell about them or they'll lose their power.
One thing I think I've learnt is how to learn.
We all have horrors in our lives that have to be lived with. We must all harden our hearts about the harm we have done to others, forgive ourselves and forget our deeds as the victims of them would do if they were righteous.
I think religion is about good and evil and the distance between them.
There's a reference to a painting by Botticelli of angels embracing repentant sinners, but I can't figure out which painting that would be.

Harold Bloom in The New York Times says,
no other contemporary British novelist seems to me of her eminence. Her formidable combination of intellectual drive and storytelling exuberance may never fuse into a great novel, but she has earned now the tribute she made to Sartre more than 30 years ago. She too has the style of the age.
There is a Center for Iris Murdoch Studies.

Swedish Tea

On the package it says: "Påtår på gotländskt vis. Ett svart te med inslag av fläder och jordgubb. Så gott att du inte kan motså en andra kopp." Google translate says it means, "Second cup on Gotland manner -[hmmm, got no idea what that might mean]. A black tea with hints of elderflower and strawberry. So good that you cannot resist a second cup." This appears to be the company's website, and here's a link for this particular blend. The Daughter bought this tea for us at Skona Gertruds in Sweden on a recent trip to visit an old friend. How thoughtful! I like it and have had several cups, but The Husband doesn't care for it. Fruit flavorings just aren't his cup of tea. ;)

The cup and saucer is the survivor of a pair we bought in the J. Peterman store in Chattanooga many years ago. It's the Chanticleer pattern from Burleigh. That was a fun vacation. We stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, went to the Tennessee Aquarium and the Tow Truck Museum, saw Rock City and Ruby Falls, toured Civil War sites, and more. There's plenty to do there.

Join the T party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Frost Bake Shop

It has taken me a while to get this posted, but we actually went to the Frost Bake Shop just a few days after they opened last month. They are located in Laurelwood Shopping Center, across from Turkoyz and next to James Davis. Here's a map.

You might think this wouldn't be the best place to have breakfast, but I beg to differ. Just look at this lemon cupcake and coffee!

What a wonderful breakfast! The Daughter got 2 cookies and some Mississippi Mud, and we were treated by the staff to a banana walnut cupcake, which was wonderful. The cupcakes are dense, rich and flavorful with natural ingredients and real icing. I want to try the Memphis Cream cake, the coconut cake, the orange dream cake, the pecan pie, the cheesecake, the caramel ... i guess I'd like to try one of everything.

The Memphis Flyer covered their opening. Memphis Magazine has some photos. I Love Memphis blog has a review. Yelp didn't have reviews when we went. They are on Urban Spoon here. They have a Facebook page.

Flight of the Navigator

Flight of the Navigator is a 1986 science fiction film. Not my cuppa tea. My tolerance for cute kids in movies is fairly low, and this film doesn't have much else to offer. It starts off with a see-the-dogs-catch-the-frisbee contest and the little kids arguing over kid stuff. Then Dad and Son have a heart-to-heart talk about Girls.

Gag. So much cuteness. And time travel is a key plot element. Bummer. It seems to be well-liked by most, though, so maybe it's a you-had-to-be-there "thing".

via youtube:

Moria says, "of all the banal boy-encounters-alien efforts that emerged after E.T., this is one of the most intelligent." Empire Online concludes, "Never brave enough to feel far-reaching (or, ironically, far-fetched, when time-travel and space flight are so popular at the movies), Navigator still fulfills its mission, distracting the family for bang-on an hour and a half." Time Out says it's "One for the none too discerning youngster." DVD Talk calls it "a charming piece of 1980s nostalgia". Rotten Tomatoes has an 80% critics score.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Court Square Fountain

This is in a lovely park in downtown Memphis. You can read its history -tragic in its early days (the death of a child is involved)- and see more pictures here. Vance Lauderdale also tells the story in the Memphis Flyer, including more information in a comment there.

The park has a gazebo and often hosts free musical entertainment. There are benches scattered around and plenty of shade. The Daughter and I had a nice time here recently.

Fantasy Film Recommendations

This list of "Fantasy Movies You Should See" is from SF Site (probably via SF Signal, but I don't honestly remember):
The Thief of Bagdad (1924, d. Raoul Walsh)
King Kong (1933, d. Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack)
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958, d. Nathan H. Juran)
The Exterminating Angel (1962, d. Luis Buñuel)
The Spirit of the Beehive (1973, d. Victor Erice)
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987, d. Ching Siu-tung)
Paperhouse (1988, d. Bernard Rose)
Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990, d. Anthony Minghella)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999, d. Michael Hoffman)
Big Fish (2003, d. Tim Burton)
It's intended as a response to the Rotten Tomatoes list, as he says he:
decided to offer my own list of great fantasy movies as a companion piece -- and, in some cases, an antidote to what Rotten Tomatoes cobbled together. I decided against offering my own ten-best, for the simple reason that (a) the truly great selections already have a place on the previous list and (b) are entries you should already be familiar with. (Seriously, haven't you already seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, The Princess Bride, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Princess Mononoke?) My only real criteria, this time, was to select movies that did not appear on Rotten Tomatoes' list. Hopefully you'll find something of interest in these selections.
I've seen the ones in bold print and have heard of Exterminating Angel and that version of Midsummer Night's Dream. I haven't heard of the others, but his descriptions motivate me to seek them out. Big Fish is one of my favorite movies.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Good Morning, Judge

Good Morning, Judge:

by Furry Lewis, who died in Memphis on this date in 1981 at the age of 88.

lyrics excerpt:
Good morning judge, what may be my fine?
Good morning judge, what may be my fine?
Fifty dollars, eleven twenty-nine

They 'rest me for murder, I ain't harmed a man
'Rest me for murder, I ain't harmed a man
Women hollerin' murderer, Lord I ain't raised my hand

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Vitelloni

I Vitelloni is a 1953 film by director Federico Fellini. It is the story of 5 young men at turning points in their lives in a small Italian town. This is such a simple story. The characters come to life as sympathetic figures on the screen. It always amazes me how much about the human condition is revealed in stories about the everyday lives of everyday people.

It won the Silver Lion for best director at the Venice Film Festival.


Senses of Cinema says, "This is a film that crackles with rebellious energy and yet is also shot through with a sort of melancholy for Fellini’s own formation as a young artist: it marks both the central and the end point of his apprenticeship as a great filmmaker." Slant Magazine describes it as a "beautifully photographed and slyly funny drama". DVD Talk says it's "one of Federico Fellini's true masterpieces". MoMA has an interesting article, quoting Fellini as saying, "Telling the story of some people, I try to show some truth". has a spoiler-filled plot description. It has a score of 100% at Rotten Tomatoes.


Topkapi is a 1964 heist film directed by Jules Dassin and starring Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, Maximilian Schell and Robert Morley. Akim Tamiroff is also in this. This movie is great fun. Definitely re-watchable. It's enjoyable on many levels and the acting is wonderful, but that should be no surprise considering the talent involved.

via youtube:

DVD Talk says, "It's one of the classics of the genre". TCM has an overview. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 89%.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Monyo is what's written at the base of this sculpture. Poking around on the web a bit, I discovered this. It's just off Main Street in Downtown Memphis.

The Circus of Dr. Lao

The Circus of Dr. Lao is a 1935 fantasy book written by Charles G. Finney. The film 7 Faces of Dr. Lao starring Tony Randall is based on this book. This is one of the few cases where I like the movie better, although the book is enjoyable. The film was more of a coherent story, weaving the lives of the characters together as part of a common plot. The book is more a series of vignettes.

my favorite quote:
Piety such as theirs exists no more. Such simple, trusting faith is lost to the world. When you folks here in Abalone worship your god, I understand you do it in a church wired for sound, so that every pleasure automobile, radio-equipped, can, even at sixty miles an hour, hear you at your prayers. But does your god?
from the back of the book:
A classic since its first publication in 1935, The Circus of Dr. Lao is irreverent, licentious, insolent and amusing. Here is a circus of legendary creatures -satyrs, werewolves, mermaids, sea serpents- that is scintillating, intriguing, horrifying and delightful. Between the lines of its imaginative orgies is a profound satirical comment on civilization.
"Just as, in a menagerie, some people will pause to marvel before a cage of an exotic creature from another hemisphere, while others haul their children past, scarecely permitting them a glimpse, so, at the circus, some of us gasp at the trapezists' and the tumblers' feats, and other paying customers move restlessly in their seats and check their fingernails. In a circus we see mostly what we are ready to see. There is no script but chance and hope and sponteneity, and thus it is appropriate that this masterpieve of circus literature describes an imaginary circus, not a real one. No circus ought to be too "real"." -from Edward Hoagland's introduction
SF Site concludes, "It's a thought-provoking read and, like Dr. Lao's circus, contains far more depth than its humble surface appears to offer." Strange Horizons closes with this: "The book holds its own today, as it blends in with the exciting changes taking place in imaginative writing. Like Dr. Lao's circus, it is full of magic, and exists outside the boundaries of time." SFF World calls it "Weird, unusual and sadly affecting". Kirkus Reviews says, "just as the absurd circus parade piqued the curiosity of the townsfolk, so page after page, the story piques the curiosity of the reader."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cooling Off

One day recently, The Daughter and I spent some time together downtown. It was a hot day, and there were some people who decided that this public fountain space was perfect for cooling down a bit. We didn't get in the water ourselves, but it's delightfully refreshing just to be on a nearby bench feeling the spray and doing some people-watching.

You can see the Mississippi River bridge in the background of the photo above, in between the buildings.

Here's another part of the plaza where there are picnic tables:

Those walls you can see in this photo have water cascading down them. Very peaceful.

Django the Bastard

Django the Bastard (aka The Stranger's Gundown) is a 1969 Spaghetti Western about a Confederate soldier who returns to seek revenge for the betrayal of his unit. Former officers begin to die. Anthony Steffen plays the Django character, which has no connection to the character in the original Django film. I find it interesting.
"There ain't no man livin' could ever refuse all that money."
via youtube:

Fistful of Pasta has 2 reviews: This one is mixed, while this one is positive. closes with this:
A very creepy film that more appropriatley resembles a horror film than a Spaghetti Western. It relies heavily on atmosphere and suspense and will no doubt fascinate many viewers. It is one of those movies that every Spaghetti Western fan should see to decide for themselves. It does have faults but has many distinguishing aspects that make this a very interesting and enjoyable Spaghetti Western.
The Spinning Image closes by saying,
As an action film, this just about passes muster. It has that familiar mix of grubby sadism, pitch black humour and cynical social commentary ... common to all Django movies, even if they aren’t directly related, and moves briskly through its stalking and shootouts. Sergio Garrone was a solid hand at westerns and war movies...
Rotten Tomatoes has no critics' reviews.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Age of Doubt

The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri is the 14th book in the Inspector Montalbano mystery series. I enjoy this series. I like the characters and the way they develop, and I find the plots interesting. This series is much better read in order as the characters and their relationships do develop over time. Do not start with this book.

from the back of the book:
The day after a storm floods Vigata, Inspector Montalbano encounters a strange, bedraggled woman who expresses interest in a certain yacht scheduled to dock that afternoon. Not long after she's gone‚ the crew of the yacht reports having found a dinghy in the port, and within it, a disfigured corpse. Also at anchor is an eighty-five-foot luxury boat with a somewhat shady crew. Both boats will have to stay in Vigata until the investigation is over -the unidentified ma was poisoned, it seems. Based on the information -and misinformation- the mysterious woman shared with him‚ Montalbano begins to think the occupants of the yacht just might know a little more about the man’s death than they’re letting on.
Euro Crime concludes with this:
Because of its focus on Montalbano's continual agonising between Livia and other women, I would say that it isn't one of the strongest of the series. Nevertheless, there is plenty of Camilleri's trademark humour and charm to please his fans, and of course the able translation of Stephen Sartarelli enhances the whole.
Kirkus Reviews closes with this: "delves more deeply into the hero's interior life than usual. A droll delight for series fans, maybe not so much for new readers." Reviewing the Evidence calls it "Entertaining summer fare." The Telegraph says, "As is customary with Camilleri's novels, the delight is not in the crime plot - which is just as well, as most of the exposition comes in a rush at the end - but in the character of Montalbano." Publisher's Weekly says, "The awkward humanity and everyday sadness of Camilleri’s characters make them instantly sympathetic, while wry commentary on language, food, and local customs lend color."

I've also read these:
1. The Shape of Water
2. The Terra-Cotta Dog
3. The Snack Thief
4. Voice of the Violin
5. Excursion to Tindari
6. The Smell of Night
7. Rounding the Mark
8. The Patience of the Spider
9. The Paper Moon
10. August Heat
11. The Wings of the Sphinx
12. The Track of Sand
13. The Potter's Field

Just one cup, please

Join the fun at the Mr. Linky that Bleubeard and Elizabeth have set up to share weekly T Stands for Tuesday posts.

Sometimes I just want 1 cup of coffee. The Melitta one-cup coffee brewer is perfect for that. It's listed as a "READY SET JOE POUR-OVER" at their site. You put a little cone filter inside, add enough coffee, place it on top of your cup and pour hot water over it. In no time at all you have the perfect cup of coffee. Of course, if you want another cup, it's just as easy as the first one. It's wonderful to have an option for coffee that tastes great but is just as easy as instant.

We gave this cup to The Grandmother long years ago, and she gave it back a couple of years ago when she started having all her meals provided by her building's dining room. On the bottom is printed, "Vandor Country Collection; Designer: Pelzman Designs". I think this is the first time I've ever used it.

Right now The Grandmother (she's my mother but always seemed to like being a grandmother better) is enjoying the hospitality of a local rehab facility as she recovers from a fall that caused several broken ribs and a couple of spinal fractures. Now that, my friends is painful! They are positive about her chances to return to her home after more therapy, which is a testament to her strength and determination. She may be in her mid-90s, but she's still a fighter!

Monday, September 09, 2013

One and Only BBQ

One and Only BBQ is a fairly new place that moved into the old CKs on Perkins at Southern by the Oak Court Mall. For some reason it has taken us a while to try this place. It smells wonderful as we pass by it, but we just kept putting off actually going. It was time to put a stop to this procrastination!

The Husband had the large BBQ combo with sweet potato fries, The Daughter had the regular BBQ combo with slaw and fries, The Younger Son had the double cheeseburger with fries, and I had the regular BBQ combo with slaw and sweet potato fries:

You can see their menu here. The service was great, the food was very good, and it's located close to us. The Younger Son said the hamburger was average (whereas Tops BBQ hamburgers are among the best), and this is more expensive than Tops. Chances are Tops will remain our go-to spot for BBQ sandwiches, but this place is great for a change of pace now and then.

Our total was over $50, including tax and tip.

Memphis Que gives it a good review. Yelp has 4 out of 5 stars with 20 reviews. Urban Spoon has a score of 88% with 43 votes. One and Only BBQ hase a Facebook page.


The Elder Son has been encouraging me to watch this film for years, and I'm finally getting around to it. Hellraiser is a 1987 Clive Barker horror film. I'm glad to have seen it and wouldn't mind watching it again. It's not hard to watch, and it's interesting -especially visually. And to think a series was born of this.


1000 Misspent Hours likes it. Empire Online concludes, "With Hellraiser, Clive Barker created one of the most genuinely disturbing movies of the last 20 years." Slant Magazine says, "In its original incarnation, Barker's adaptation of his own novella The Hellbound Heart touched upon something genuinely unsettling: not just the pleasure of pain, but also the pain of sex." Roger Ebert gives it a measly 1/2 star, calling it " as dreary a piece of goods as has masqueraded as horror in many a long, cold night." The Rotten Tomatoes critics score is 63%.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

10 Best Science Fiction Films of The Last 5 Years

ScreenRant has a list of the "10 Best Sci-Fi Films of The Last 5 Years":
Star Trek
District 9 (I tried to watch it, really I did.)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Source Code
Super 8
4 out of 10. Bummer. I think I have a better track record with "older" movies. Much older movies.

HT: SF Signal

Wasn't That a Mighty Storm

Wasn't That a Mighty Storm:

sung by Tom Rush, with contemporaneous photos by Thomas A. Edison. The song says there was a sea wall, but that wasn't built until later.

Today is the anniversary of the Galveston hurricane in 1900. It is the worst natural disaster in our history, with over 6,000 dead. Some estimates are that up to 12,000 people were killed. NOAA has extensive information, including links to contemporaneous accounts and period photographs. CNN has an in-depth report here, including maps and videos. names the Galveston Hurricane "The deadliest hurricane in United States history". has an article. Time says it "killed about 8,000 Americans and leveled what had been the largest city in Texas. It was a vicious storm with 130 mph winds." The Wikipedia entry on the storm is here.

Here is a silent video from 1900 of workers looking for bodies in the aftermath of the storm:

Here's a 1994 news report focusing on the beach-side orphanage that was destroyed in the storm:

A ship smashed into the building, the orphanage was lifted off its foundation and the roof caved in, trapping the orphans and Catholic sisters inside. The only survivors were 3 of the children who clung to a tree where they had washed up.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Downtown Memphis Mural

just off South Main Street

Best Fantasy Films

List Challenges asks how many you've seen:
1 - The Wizard of Oz
2 - Pinocchio
3 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
4 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
5 - Fantasia
6 - How To Train Your Dragon
7 - Monty Python and the Holy Grail
8 - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
9 - Beauty and the Beast (1946)
10 - Spirited Away
11 - Kiki's Delivery Service
12 - Pan's Labyrinth
13 - The Witches (1990 film)
14 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
15 - The Princess Bride
16 - Beauty and the Beast
17 - Orphee
18 - Time Bandits
19 - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
20 - Enchanted
21 - The Secret World of Arrietty
22 - Jason and the Argonauts
23 - Princess Mononoke
24 - Coraline
25 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
26 - The Secret of NIMH
27 - James and the Giant Peach
29 - Sleeping Beauty (1959 film)
30 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
31 - The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
32 - Shrek 2
33 - Tangled
34 - The Little Mermaid
35 - Shrek
36 - Kung Fu Panda
37 - Black Orpheus
38 - Hellboy II: The Golden Army
39 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
40 - Delicatessen
41 - Howl's Moving Castle
42 - Santa Sangre
43 - The Princess and the Frog
44 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
45 - Bridge to Terabithia
46 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
47 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
48 - Brave
49 - Kung Fu Panda 2
50 - Hellboy
37 out of 50, which gives me 2 stars out of 3 in their scoring system. I won't be going back and watching the ones of these I missed except for Orphee and Santa Sangre. I will be looking for those two.

HT: SF Signal

Friday, September 06, 2013

The Truth

The Truth is a 1960 French film starring Brigitte Bardot as a young woman on trial for the murder of her lover. The relationships come into focus as the testimony is given, and the jurors -and the film audience- are asked to decide what the truth is in this case. Will the truth help or hurt her chances in court? This is reportedly Bardot's favorite of her films. It's a bit on the talky side, but that's due to the type of film it is.

It begins with a scene of Bardot's character in prison and moves quickly to the courtroom. Extensive use is made of flashbacks.

via youtube:

Reviews are scarce, which surprises me for a film that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I understand Bardot's performance was praised. Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have a critics score, but the audience score is 89%.

The Fall

The Fall is a 2006 fantasy/adventure film. It's a movie filled with beautiful images from the child's vision of the man's imaginative story. The story isn't quite as riveting as the visualization, but the vision is entrancing. I had never heard of this until I came across it on youtube, but it's well worth finding.

via youtube:

This Slant Magazine review says, "The Fall is a bedtime story impeccably designed to flatter its own maker. And chronic masturbators," while another article at that site explains why it's a cult classic:
The resulting experience is unique and thrilling. We are never implicitly told how to feel, when to applaud, or what moments to relish. Consequently, The Fall takes its place among an elite category of cinema: a careful artwork that doesn't advertise its own gravitas. Perhaps that's the definition of a cult classic.
Quiet Earth says, "I would recommend The Fall to people who want to be visually blown away and can be a bit forgiving in the storytelling department." Roger Ebert gives it a full 4 stars and says it "is beautiful for its own sake". The Rotten Tomatoes scores: critics score 59%; audience score 83%.